Each of us has a role to play to change the discourse
One week ago, rioters violently stormed the US Capitol in an effort to disrupt the process of democracy at work. This week I shared with our associates at PCI a video of Senator Ben Sasse’s remarks following the violence during which five people died, including a Capitol Hill police officer.
Senator Sasse stated: “That’s not who we are… America is a union. There’s a lot that’s broken in this country but not anything that’s so big that the American people can’t rebuild it. That freedom and community and entrepreneurial effort and that neighborhoods can’t rebuild. Nothing that’s broken is so big that we can’t fix it.”
While political views may vary, there is no tolerance for the spreading of disinformation, racism, violence, or attacks on democracy in a civil society. Now is not the time for leaders to be silent.
At PCI, we believe deeply in our country and in the character of the American people. As a company, we will do all we can to support the peaceful transition of power and to help heal the deep wounds in our country that persist racially, politically, and economically.
As Americans, we are angry. Angry about the events of last Wednesday. Angry about the toxic culture that defines our politics.
“But if you’re angry, I want to beg you — don`t let the screamers who monetize hate have the final word,” Senator Sasse implored us. “There are some who want to burn it all down. We met some of them today. But they aren’t going to win.”
What can you and I do? Our organizations can serve as an example of what it means to be values-based organizations built on integrity, trust, pursuing excellence, and servant leadership. We can encourage our associates to bring their whole selves to work and not ignore the things which impact them outside of it. We can continue to be here to support one another, our communities, and our country.
As individuals, each of us has a role to play to change the discourse and to help chart a new direction. We can raise our awareness. We can look for opportunities to connect and engage with people who don’t share our specific views or perhaps look like we do. We can heed Senator Sasse’s suggestion to: “Organize, persuade, but most importantly, love your neighbor. Visit the widower down the street who’s lonely and didn’t want to tell anybody that his wife died and he doesn’t have a lot of friends. Shovel somebody’s driveway. You can’t hate somebody who just shoveled your driveway.”
Yes, it will take time and patience but this is the right path forward.
Generations of our “ancestors have spilled blood to defend the glories of this republic. Why would they do that?” Senator Sasse asked. “Because America is the most exceptional nation in the history of the world, and because the Constitution is the greatest political document that’s ever been written.”
Here is a youtube link to Senator Sasse’s speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GJ6yq2SMVQ
Here is a transcript of his remarks:
Mr. President, thank you and Mr. Vice President, let me just say before I begin… Thank you for the way you have fulfilled your constitutional duties and your oath of office today. It obviously hasn’t been easy.
Colleagues, today has been ugly. When I came to the floor this morning, I planned to talk about the lesson of 1801 because I’m kind of a history nerd, and I wanted to celebrate the glories of the peaceful transition of power across our nation’s history. It feels a little naive now to talk about ways that American civics might be something that could unite us in bringing us back together.
1801 blew everybody’s mind all over the world, by the way. John Adams loses to Thomas Jefferson and Adams willingly leaves the executive mansion and moves back to Massachusetts. And Jefferson peacefully assumes power, and people all over Europe said, “That must be fake news. Those must be bad reports. There’s no way an executive would ever willingly lay down power.” And yet Adams, in defeat, did something glorious to give all of us a gift.
I wanted to celebrate that, and it feels a little bit harder now. This building has been desecrated. Blood has been spilled in the hallways. I was with octogenarian members of this chamber that needed to have troops and police stabilize them to get down the stairs at a time when a lot of our staffs were panicked and under their desks and not know what was going to happen to them. It was ugly today.
But you know what? It turns out that when something is ugly talking about beauty isn’t just permissible, talking about beauty is obligatory at a time like that. Why? Why would we talk about beauty after the ugliness of today? Because our kids need to know that this isn’t what America is.
I don’t think we want to tell the Americans that come after us that this republic is broken, that this is just a banana republic, that our institutions can’t be trusted.
I don’t think we want that. We don’t want that in this body, we don’t want that in our home towns.
I don’t think we want to tell our kids that America’s best days are behind us because it’s not true.
That’s not who we are. America isn’t Hatfield’s and McCoy’s blood feud forever. America is a union. There’s a lot that’s broken in this country but not anything that’s so big that the American people can’t rebuild it. That freedom and community and entrepreneurial effort and that neighborhoods can’t rebuild. Nothing that’s broken is so big that we can’t fix it.
Generations of our forefathers and our foremothers – probably not a word – our ancestors have spilled blood to defend the glories of this republic. Why would they do that?
Because America is the most exceptional nation in the history of the world, and because the Constitution is the greatest political document that’s ever been written. Most governments in the past have said, “might makes right,” and we saw some of that fooligan nuttery today. “Might makes right!” No, it doesn’t. God gives us rights by nature, and government is just our shared project to secure those rights.
America has always been about what we choose to do together, the way we reaffirm our constitutional system where we’ve got some governmental tasks, and we all in this body could do better at those governmental tasks, but the heart of America is not government.
The center of America is not Washington, DC. The center of America is the neighborhoods where 330 million Americans are raising their kids and trying to put food on the table and trying to love their neighbor. That’s the center of America. We’re not supposed to be the most important people in America, we’re supposed to be servant leaders who try to maintain a framework for ordered liberty so that there’s a structure that back home where they live, they can get from the silver frame of structure and order to the golden apple at the center, as Washington would have said it, which is the things that they build together. The places where they coach little league, the places where they invite people to synagogue or church. Sometimes the big things we do together are governmental, like kicking Hitler’s ass or like going to the moon. Sometimes there is governmental stuff, but the heart of America is about places where moms and dads are raising kids, and we’re supposed to serve them by maintaining order and by rejecting violence.
You can’t do big things like that if you hate your neighbors. You can’t do big things together as Americans if you think other Americans are the enemy.
Look, there’s a lot of uncertainty about the future, I get it. There’s a lot that does need to be rebuilt. But if you’re angry, I want to beg you — don`t let the screamers who monetize hate have the final word. Don’t let nihilists become your drug dealers. There are some who want to burn it all down. We met some of them today. But they aren’t going to win. Don’t let them be your prophets. Instead, organize, persuade, but most importantly, love your neighbor. Visit the widower down the street who’s lonely and didn’t want to tell anybody that his wife died and he doesn’t have a lot of friends. Shovel somebody’s driveway. You can’t hate somebody who just shoveled your driveway. The heart of life is about community and neighborhood, and we’re supposed to be servant leaders. The constitutional system is still the greatest order for any government ever, and it’s our job to steward it and protect it.